Tweaking the Reading List, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spent the day trying to stay warm and dry. It’s very cold here in Mendocino. A few minutes ago, rain started to come down.

Self tried to get into Empress of the East, had high hopes, but the first chapter, Abduction, isn’t really about how Roxelana, Slave-Girl-Turned-Empress-of-the-Ottoman-Empire, was abducted. Instead, it consists of page after page of speculation about the exact spot from where she was taken. Then, a few pages of how hard it was on captives. DUH. This is dull stuff.

Luckily, self brought the next book on her reading list to Mendocino. It’s The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman. Opening sentence:

Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and two dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called the Trout.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 6 Letters Starts With the Letter ‘V’

Happy to participate in another of Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenges.


Self’s word is VOLUMES.

Self visited the British Library for the first time on 31 December 2017. There was a Harry Potter exhibit, but that was sold out. She was able to get on another tour, however, and had a very stimulating introduction to the library holdings.


George V donated his entire library to the British Library. Here’s how the volumes are displayed.


Self’s silhouette can be seen in this picture. It was Dec. 31, 2017, around noon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More 2017 Favorites: Big Year


Evening, Trafalgar Square, First Sunday of March 2017


Steep Hillside, One Cow: Albion, California, New Year’s 2017


Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA: January 2017


Transformation: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 22 November 2017

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is TRANSFORMATION.

There are many ways self could choose to interpret that challenge. She could show nature and the changing seasons. She could show people in the process of transforming (costumes, aging, and so forth).

For now, she chooses to focus on the transformation of physical space. The first picture is London’s Chinatown in late October. The second is the Blue Room in Paradiso in Cork.

In the first picture, the Chinese lanterns add a whole different aspect to the street.

In the second, it’s the shadows cast by a floor lamp that transform a simple room into a place of mystery.


Chinatown, London: Last Week of October 2017


Paradiso, Cork: Early November, 2017

Other interpretations:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: “Trenarren, Autumn 1941”

An excerpt from Trenarren, Autumn 1941

by A. L. Rowse

The thunder-green sea
Brings nearer the Island
On which stood the chapel
Of Michael the Archangel.

Smoke from a chimney
In the V-shaped valley,
The voices of children,
A robin on the bough:

Familiar and cheerful
Domestic noises
Speak of contentment
About me now.

But what is to come?
I ask myself, waiting
In this burial-place
Of my ancient people.

from A. L. Rowse’s collection Poems, Chiefly Cornish (London: Faber and Faber), dedicated to Edward Sackville West, “in our common passion for Cornwall”

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 2 Ms Anywhere In the Word

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges are really that: Fun.

Her series, Alphabet With a Twist, is now on the Letter M: To complicate things, you have to have 2 Ms, anywhere in the word.

It took self some assiduous looking, but she finally came up with these two pictures of the Prince Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, from her most recent visit to London, a few weeks ago:


The Prince Albert Memorial on a Beautiful Day in Hyde Park, London, Late October 2017


Closer View of The Prince Albert Memorial

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



It is really interesting reading the Goodreads reviews of Do No Harm, as many of the reviewers seem to either: a) know the author personally, or know someone he has treated, or b) suffer from a malady mentioned in the book.

Self engaged in the discussion yesterday: someone summarized each chapter, thereby indirectly dropping spoilers. So self recommended putting a SPOILER ALERT over her review, as right now she is in the chapter called Aneurysm, and until reading the review she was completely on pins and needles.

And now self needs to add:


The chapter has the pacing of the very best thrillers. The protagonists are a neurosurgeon (the author) vs. a patient’s brain.

The brain acquiesces quite easily, but the fault lies in the first aneurysm clip (six-millimetre, titanium) which won’t open. The assistant tries first, but fumbles, so after a few seconds the author has to take over. This time, the clip does open, but the applicator can’t seem to release the clip.

Of all the — ! This patient (a 32-year-old wife and mother) has to have the worst luck in the world! The author has to sit there holding the clip and cursing, worried that if he moves his hand, the aneurysm will tear off the cerebral artery and cause a catastrophic hemorrhage in the patient’s brain (It’s at this point where self can’t stop thinking of the Jeremy Renner character in The Hurt Locker, when he finds an IED but discovers to his horror that it’s one of those butterfly ones, six little bombs in a circle, and he’s standing right in the middle)

He realizes he has no choice but to remove the clip he has just so painstakingly positioned, and find a third clip.

As the doctor removes the second clip, “the aneurysm suddenly swells and springs back into life, filling instantly with arterial blood. I feel it is laughing at me . . . ”

The author shouts, “That’s never happened before!” which is a completely futile statement, in self’s humble opinion. Because literally nothing has ever happened before.

So what does the author do? He throws the offending clip, just flings it across the room.

Gawd, if self was the patient, and she was watching this go down (Thank God for anesthesia) she might very well change her mind about the operation and say: Let me out of here!

(And if this were an American hospital, wouldn’t the doctor be afraid of writing about this incident? America being such a litigious society, after all. But this is England, self is reminded. And England is not as litigious.)

Here’s the rub: “The faulty ones, for some strange reason, turned out to have stiff hinges.” (p. 30)

Self has a feeling the story turns out well; it wouldn’t be in the book otherwise. It simply wouldn’t.

Stay tuned.

More Peeks: Bury Street, Before the Shops Open

Bury Street is where the London Review Bookshop is. It’s a fabulous street, not just because of the Bookshop, and the Cake Shop next to it, but because of other small shops, all along its length.


Joan McGavin introduced me to this specialty bookshop and press, last year.


Such good pastries! Went here with Sue on Monday, to celebrate the Mueller indictments.


Bury Street, off Great Russell, Before the Shops Open: 2 November 2017

PEEK: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 1 November 2017

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is PEEK. Self thinks these pictures, from her current trip to London, do fit the bill:


Sky over Bloomsbury: Today, 1 November 2017


The Gielgud on Shaftesbury, where self saw “The Ferryman” on Monday, 30 October 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery


Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog


Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle

Rants Of A Gypsy

Amuse Thyself Reader!

FashionPoetry by Val

A blog. My blog


Just another weblog

Jean Lee's World

Finder of Fantasy & Adventure in Her Own Backyard